Alcoholism: symptoms and treatment. Stages of alcoholism

alcoholism in men

Alcoholism can rightly be considered a problem of humanity. However, not everyone can say exactly when and how this disease may manifest itself. Meanwhile, alcoholism, like any other disease, has several stages.

Alcoholism has a total of 4 stages. Not only the duration and effectiveness of the treatment, but also the final result depends on the degree of neglect and the situation of the patient's environment.

After all, many people who have recovered after a few years return to their old habits.

It is not about treatment, but about the wrong approach to the main cause of the problem, the lack of knowledge of the characteristics of the patient's character, and insufficient psycho-emotional support from relatives and friends.

The initial stage of alcoholism: causes and treatment

Read more: what is alcoholism.

The first stage of alcoholism is not always seen as the beginning of the deterioration of the personality and the progression of the disease. Treatment and its duration may depend on parameters such as:

  • age of the patient;
  • The stage of the disease;
  • Emotional state and atmosphere in the family;
  • Predisposition (heredity);
  • Environment;
  • Stability/instability of the human psyche;
  • The perception of the problem as such not only by the patient, but also by all his friends and relatives;
  • Gender of the patient (male or female).
  • man drinks with friends
  • The dose of alcohol is gradually increased;
  • It is possible to receive strong drinks even for a minor reason;
  • A person loses control, it is difficult to control movement, thoughts after drinking;
  • Aggression towards acquaintances and friends manifests itself more often;
  • Even after emptying the stomach of the accumulated alcohol, you cannot stop (vomiting);
  • There is a severe hangover with headache;
  • So far, he reacts negatively to a hangover (rejection of alcohol);
  • Contradictions in actions and words, both when drunk and sober;
  • He has a negative attitude towards alcoholics, he does not consider his problem important.

Treatment of the initial stage

treatment of the initial stage of alcoholism

Also, don't overlook the effects of alcohol on all human organs. Therefore, understanding the problem helps in the following research:

  1. Liver and pancreatic diseases (heaviness, nausea, vomiting, pain and colic, flatulence, indigestion);
  2. Vegetovascular disease (swelling of the veins, heaviness of the legs, swelling and pain after a day);
  3. Hypertensive diseases (sudden pressure jumps, loss of strength, severe headache, nausea);
  4. Nervous system diseases (headache, convulsions, swelling, irritability, sleep disorder, hand cracking, aggression, irritability).

How to determine the stage of alcoholism? You cannot figure this out on your own without the help of a trained professional. The first signs should be a warning. Early diagnosis and treatment are the basis of successful treatment.

The second stage of alcoholism: what are the symptoms and treatment methods

symptoms of alcoholism

The patient reacts sharply to criticism and comments from the outside, shows aggressive and direct expressions.

The degree of alcoholism and their treatment differ from case to case. One will need more psychological help, the other will need harsh conditions and limits that he cannot cross. However, one thing becomes clear: you cannot do without outside help. The second stage of alcohol addiction is treated with an integrated approach:

  1. Medicinal cleansing of the body. An important step that allows you to get rid of accumulated toxins. The intoxication of the body in this case is high, and the drugs not only allow the side effects of consuming large amounts of alcohol, but also accelerate the breakdown of ethanol in the blood plasma;
  2. Aversive treatment - drugs are administered intravenously to induce alcohol withdrawal. Such drugs often cause no discomfort to a non-drinker. But the simultaneous intake of alcohol and such a drug causes vomiting, nausea, severe headache and subconscious rejection;
  3. Psychologist's help. After all manipulations have been done with the patient's body, the brain has been freed from the effects of ethanol, it is time to proceed to the main stage of treatment - psychological assistance and adaptation to normal life.

How long this treatment can last is an individual characteristic of the patient. At this stage, it is important to identify the main reasons for the desire for alcohol.

After all, the effect of drugs does not reduce the psycho-emotional dependence on relaxation that can be achieved by drinking alcohol.

This stage and its effectiveness depend entirely on the professionalism of the doctor and the acceptance of the results of all his relatives. Only in this case can the relapse of the disease be avoided.

The third stage of alcoholism: a problem of society and not only

alcoholism in the third stage

The third stage of alcoholism is no longer a problem only for the patient's family and close circle. This is the problem of the whole society: a person degrades himself, violates all existing norms and rules of communication, does not respond to the comments and requests of loved ones, is a "burden" factor for the family. In fact, the 3rd stage of alcoholism often forces a person to refuse work, ignores the wishes of relatives and friends. This means that such a patient cannot ensure the purchase of expensive alcoholic beverages. As a result, funds, expensive equipment and food are stolen from home. In addition, the third stage of alcoholism is accompanied by additional features such as:

  • Deformation of appearance: thin arms and legs, large trunk and abdomen, burgundy or gray skin with obvious vein occlusion, swelling in any condition on all limbs and under the eyes, loss of teeth, blackening;
  • The psyche is disturbed: inappropriate reaction to simple things, unwillingness to communicate, aggression for no reason, unwillingness to change anything;
  • Alcohol is the basis of a diet that replaces all healthy human nutrition. How much a person can drink depends in part on their constitution;
  • speech distortion;
  • Paralysis of certain parts of the body, more often the face, arms, legs;
  • Health problems: hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cancer, food indigestion, urinary and fecal incontinence;
  • Alcohol resistance (less doses, but more often).

Alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy

Treating alcoholism at this stage is a difficult task and not always effective. This is primarily due to the complete deformation of the human psyche, reevaluation of values and life priorities.

Such an addict often does not set a goal for himself, except to withdraw the next dose of alcohol.

However, all the first three stages of alcoholism can be treated only if we approach this issue correctly.

What sections are difficult to handle

which stages of alcoholism are difficult to treat

An important sign of the third stage of alcoholism is the danger to human life: 80% die even after treatment due to long-term poisoning of the body and irreversible processes in the internal organs. Exhaustion of heart tissue, vascular deformity, chronic diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas (including the reproductive system in women) create dangerous conditions for the quality future life of those who have recovered. After the treatment, the main task is to support the most affected organs.

The last stage of alcoholism: no option

the last stage of alcoholism leads to death

Alcoholism is an insidious disease. It sneaks up at the moment when the whole world seems to be up in arms against you. The first stages of alcoholism are often missed and not considered a real problem. And then the progression and speed of development of complications is inevitable. Years may pass from the moment of transition from the first stage to the fourth stage.

If the first signs are not identified and missed, the complexity of the cure increases day by day. Alcoholism is more of a sentence in the fourth stage of development. Life counts in months and weeks.

The body is completely exhausted, the organs can no longer cope with the basic functions of metabolism. But it's not just a sentence for patients.

This is a diagnosis for those who could not help in time, lend a helping hand, did not perceive the disease as a problem.

Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to help in the fourth stage. The patient is not suitable for persuasion or hospital treatment. Worst of all, the Stage 4 person in front of you is nothing like the person you once knew.

His brain is so distorted by alcohol that it is impossible to recognize him in a person he used to know. The complete degradation of the subconscious, the basic instincts are replaced by new ones (drink). Even a professional psychologist and hypnosis will not help to get rid of the problem.

Alcoholism is a disease. This is important to note. Remember and know what can be done in order to avoid the unenviable fate of the alcoholic, from whom all relatives and friends turned away and pulled him forward from the world of the living.


Alcoholism is a disease caused by systematic alcohol consumption, which is characterized by mental dependence, somatic and neurological disorders, and personality degradation that occur in poisoning. The disease can also progress with abstinence from alcohol.

In the CIS, 14% of the adult population abuses alcohol, and another 80% consume alcohol moderately, which is due to certain drinking traditions that have developed in society.

Factors such as conflicts with relatives, an unsatisfactory standard of living and the inability to realize oneself often lead to abuse. At a young age, alcohol is used to overcome inner comfort, courage and shyness. In middle age, it is used to relieve fatigue, stress and get rid of social problems.

Continuous use of this relaxation method leads to permanent addiction and an inability to feel inner comfort without alcohol poisoning. Several stages of alcoholism are distinguished according to the degree of dependence and the symptoms.

Stages of alcoholism

The first stage of alcoholism

The first stage of the disease is characterized by an increase in doses and frequency of alcohol consumption. There is a syndrome of altered reactivity, in which alcohol tolerance is altered. The body's protective reactions against overdose cease, especially when consuming large amounts of alcohol, there is no vomiting.

In case of severe poisoning, palimpsests can be observed - memory disorders. Psychological dependence manifests itself in the feeling of dissatisfaction in a sober state, in constant thoughts about alcohol, and in raising the mood before alcohol consumption.

The first stage lasts 1-5 years, while the attraction can be controlled, since there is no physical dependence syndrome. A person does not degrade and does not lose his ability to work.

The complications of the first stage of alcoholism are primarily manifested in the liver, alcoholic fatty degeneration occurs.

Clinically, it almost does not appear, in some cases there may be a feeling of fullness in the stomach, bloating, diarrhea. A complication can be diagnosed with an increased and dense consistency of the liver.

To the touch, the edge of the liver is rounded and slightly sensitive. With abstinence, these symptoms disappear.

Complications of the pancreas are acute and chronic pancreatitis. At the same time, abdominal pain is noted, which is localized on the left side and radiates to the back, as well as decreased appetite, nausea, bloating and unstable stools.

Alcohol abuse often leads to alcoholic gastritis, in which there is also no appetite and nausea, pain in the epigastric region.

Second stage

The progression of second-stage alcoholism is 5-15 years and is characterized by an increase in altered reactivity syndrome.

Tolerance to alcohol reaches its maximum, so-called pseudo-binge drinking occurs, their frequency is not related to the patient's attempts to get rid of alcohol addiction, but to external circumstances, such as lack of money, inability to drink alcohol.

drunk person

The sedating effect of alcohol is replaced by an activating effect, in the case of consuming large amounts of alcohol, the loss of memory is replaced by complete amnesia at the end of the intoxication. At the same time, daily drunkenness is explained by the presence of mental addiction syndrome, when sober, the patient loses the ability to work mentally, and mental activity becomes disorganized. There is a syndrome of physical alcohol dependence, which suppresses all feelings except the desire for alcohol, which becomes uncontrollable. The patient is depressed, irritable, unable to work, after drinking alcohol, these functions return to their place, but control over the amount of alcohol is lost, which causes excessive intoxication.

The treatment of alcoholism in the second stage must be carried out in a specialized hospital, narcologist or psychiatrist.

Acute refusal of alcohol causes somatoneurological symptoms of alcoholism, such as exophthalmos, mydriasis, hyperemia of the upper body, tremors of the fingers, nausea, vomiting, intestinal failure, heart, liver and headache.

Degradation of the personality, weakening of the intellect, delusional ideas have spiritual symptoms. Often there is anxiety, night anxiety, convulsive attacks, which are harbingers of acute psychosis - delirium tremens, popularly known as delirium tremens.

Liver complications of second-degree alcoholism are represented by alcoholic hepatitis, often in a chronic form. The disease occurs more often in a persistent form than in a progressive form.

Like first-degree complications, hepatitis rarely manifests itself with clinical symptoms. Diagnosing a possible complication with gastrointestinal pathology, difficulty appears in the epigastric region of the stomach, in the right hypochondrium, slight nausea, bloating is observed.

On palpation, the liver is compressed, enlarged and slightly painful.

Alcoholic gastritis in the second stage of alcoholism can be accompanied by symptoms disguised as the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms, the difference being painful, repeated vomiting in the morning, often with a mixture of blood. There is pain on palpation in the epigastric region.

Acute alcoholic myopathy develops after prolonged drinking, weakness and swelling in the hip and shoulder muscles. Alcoholism most often causes non-ischemic heart disease.

Third stage

The alcoholism of the third stage is significantly different from the previous two stages, the duration of this stage is 5-10 years. This is the final stage of the disease and, as practice shows, most often ends in death. Alcohol tolerance decreases, poisoning occurs after consuming a small amount of alcohol. Binge drinking ends in physical and psychological exhaustion.

a person in the third stage of alcoholism

In an altered state, emotional instability manifests itself, which shows the symptoms of alcoholism, cheerfulness, irritability, and anger alternate unpredictably.

Deterioration of the personality, reduction of intellectual abilities, inability to work lead to the fact that the alcoholic, who has no money for alcohol, uses substitutes, sells, and steals. The use of substitutes such as denatured alcohol, cologne, polish, etc. , leads to serious complications.

Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver is the most common complication of third-stage alcoholism. There are two forms of alcoholic cirrhosis - compensated and decompensated.

The first form of the disease is characterized by persistent anorexia nervosa, bloating, fatigue, low apathetic mood. The skin becomes thinner, white spots and spider veins appear on them.

The liver is enlarged, dense, with sharp edges.

The patient's appearance changes to a great extent, severe weight loss and hair loss occur. The decompensated form of liver cirrhosis differs in three types of clinical symptoms.

These include portal hypertension, which leads to hemorrhoids and bleeding from the esophagus, ascites - the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Jaundice, in which the liver is significantly enlarged, often occurs, and in severe cases, liver failure occurs, with the development of coma.

The patient has an increased melanin content, which gives the skin an icteric or earthy hue.

Diagnosis of alcoholism

The diagnosis of alcoholism can be suspected based on a person's appearance and behavior. Patients look older than their years, as the years pass, the face becomes hyperemic, skin turgor ceases. Due to the relaxation of the circular muscles of the mouth, the face acquires a specific volitional promiscuity. In many cases, the clothes show impurity and carelessness.

The diagnosis of alcoholism turns out to be quite accurate in most cases, even if we analyze not the patient himself, but his environment. Family members of patients with alcoholism have many psychosomatic disorders, neuroticism or psychotization of the non-drinking spouse, and pathologies in children.

In children whose parents systematically drink alcohol, the most common pathology is congenital brain insufficiency. Such children are often hyperactive, unfocused, want to destroy, and exhibit aggressive behavior.

In addition to congenital pathology, the child's development is also influenced by the traumatic situation in the family. Children have logoneurosis, enuresis, night terrors and behavioral disturbances.

The children are depressed, prone to suicide attempts, and often have difficulties in learning and communicating with their peers.

In many cases, pregnant women who abuse alcohol give birth to an alcoholic fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome is characterized by gross morphological abnormalities. Most often, the pathology of the fetus consists in the irregular shape of the head, the proportions of the body, the spherical, deep-set eyes, the underdevelopment of the jaw bones and the shortening of the tube bones.

Treatment of alcoholism

We have already briefly described the treatment of alcoholism depending on its stages. In most cases, a relapse may occur after treatment.

This is due to the fact that treatment is often aimed only at eliminating the most acute manifestations of alcoholism. In the absence of properly conducted psychotherapy, and in the absence of support from loved ones, alcoholism will recur.

But practice shows that psychotherapy is an important element of treatment.

treatment of alcoholism in the clinic

The first stage in the treatment of alcoholism is the elimination of acute and subacute conditions caused by intoxication of the body. First of all, binge eating stops and withdrawal disorders disappear. In the later stages, therapy is carried out only under the supervision of medical personnel, since the delirium syndrome that occurs with the interruption of drinking requires psychotherapy and a number of sedatives. The relief of acute alcoholic psychosis is to rapidly anesthetize the patient with dehydration and cardiovascular support. In case of severe alcohol poisoning, alcoholism is treated only in specialized hospitals or psychiatric wards. In the early stages, anti-alcohol treatment may be sufficient, but when alcohol is given up, a lack of neuroendocrine regulation occurs more often, the disease progresses and leads to complications and organ pathologies.

The second stage of treatment is aimed at achieving remission. The patient is fully diagnosed and treated for mental and somatic disorders. In the second stage of treatment, the therapy can be quite specific, its main task is to eliminate somatic disorders, which are key to the development of the pathological desire for alcohol.

Non-standard therapeutic methods include the Roznov technique, which consists of emotional stress therapy. In the treatment, the hypnotic effect and the preceding psychotherapeutic conversations give a good prognosis.

During hypnosis, the patient is induced to have an aversion to alcohol and an irritant-vomiting reaction to the taste and smell of alcohol. The method of verbal aversive therapy is often used.

This consists of adjusting the psyche using the method of verbal suggestion, responding to alcohol consumption with a vomiting reaction, even in an imaginary situation.

The third stage of treatment involves prolonging remission and returning to a normal lifestyle. This stage is considered the most important in the successful treatment of alcoholism. After the previous two stages, the person returns to his previous society, to his problems, to his friends, who in most cases are also addicted to alcohol, to family conflicts.

This has a greater impact on the recurrence of the disease. In order for a person to independently eliminate the causes and external symptoms of alcoholism, long-term psychotherapy is necessary. Autogenic training has a positive effect and is widely used for group therapies.

Training consists of normalizing autonomic disorders and removing emotional stress after treatment.

They use behavioral therapy, the so-called lifestyle correction. A person learns to live in a sober state, to solve his problems, acquiring the skill of self-control. Achieving mutual understanding in the family and understanding their problems is a very important step in restoring normal life.

In order for the treatment to be successful, it is important to get the patient free from alcohol addiction. Mandatory treatment does not produce the same results as voluntary treatment.

Nevertheless, refusal of treatment requires the local narcologist to forcefully refer the patient to the LTP for treatment.

Therapy in the general medical network does not give positive results, since the patient has open access to alcohol, is visited by drunken friends, etc.

In the event that alcohol consumption began in adulthood, an individual approach is needed in the selection of therapy. This is due to the fact that the somato-neurological symptoms of alcoholism appear much earlier than the development of addiction and mental disorders.

Alcoholism mortality is most often associated with complications. Decompensation of vital organs is caused by long-term drinking, withdrawal states, and concurrent illnesses.

20% of elderly patients with alcoholism have symptoms of epilepsy, acute Gaye-Wernicke syndrome is somewhat rarer. An attack of both diseases during poisoning can be fatal.

The presence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy significantly worsens the prognosis. Continuous systematic consumption of alcohol leads to death.

Less than 25% of patients with this complication live more than three years after diagnosis. A large percentage of deaths due to alcohol poisoning can be attributed to suicide.

This is facilitated by the development of chronic hallucinosis, alcoholic paraphrenia, delusions of jealousy.

The patient is unable to control wrong thoughts and performs unusual actions when sober.